We knew this was going to be a tough one going in. After a win against the Denver Nuggets last night, the Raptors were always going to find it tough to prevail against a resurgent Portland Trail Blazers squad. That it needed to happen on the 2nd night of a back to back on the road made it that much more difficult. But the Raptors showed the type of grit and effort that've become staples of the post-Rudy Raptors.
The Blazers came out firing right out of the gate, racing out to a 31-19 lead. None of the characteristics of the new era Raptors were evident early. The ball movement was slow and sloppy, the players didn't seem to have their legs under them and the defence was shoddy to boot. With Greivis Vasquez out, the Raptors bench couldn't put anything together either to cut the deficit. Going into the half, the Raptors were down 57-40, and remarkably, they played even WORSE than the suggests.
Dwane Casey made some good adjustments in the 2nd half, as we witnessed the DeMar DeRozan show. The Raptors slowed the pace down, and Chuck Hayes did a commendable job on LaMarcus Aldridge. The Raptors cut the deficit to 9 going into the 4th quarter. In the final frame, DeMar DeRozan continued his searing hot play as the Raptors slowly but surely cut into the Blazers' lead. They took their first lead of the game with 25 seconds left, but a Damian Lillard floater combined with a DeRozan turnover at the other end spelled the end of the valiant Raptor comeback.
- DeMar DeRozan: Showed his well-deserved All Star credentials tonight. More than the 36 points, consider the fact that he was singlehandedly the only Raptor creating and making shots. He willed his team back into contention and added a career high 12 assists to his stat sheet. Kudos for the effort.
- Jonas Valanciunas: JV had 18 points and hit a few jumpers today, which was nice to see. He was horrendous defensively and on the boards though, and was probably the primary culprit for the terrible first half Raptor defence. He was slow to rotate, and didn't show up in help defence often enough. Chuck Hayes' inclusion in the 2nd half was an absolute boon for the Raptors, as they finally found a way to contain Aldridge and slow the pace of the game.